The Deep Blue Sea (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/11/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Beautifully shot and exquisitely designed, this is a powerfully emotional British drama with a terrific central performance from Rachel Weisz, though it's also thoroughly depressing and you might need a good stiff drink afterwards.

What's it all about?
Directed by Terence Davies and based on the play by Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue Sea (not to be confused with Deep Blue Sea) is set “somewhere around 1950” and stars Rachel Weisz as Hester Collyer, the beautiful wife of High Court judge Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) who falls madly in love with charismatic ex-RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into his grotty lodgings under the watchful eye of landlady Mrs Elton (Ann Mitchell, aka Tanya's mum in EastEnders). However, when the heady rush of their early passion wears off, Hester gradually comes to understand that Freddie doesn't feel the same way about her as she does about him, just as she, in turn, is unable to return her husband's love.

The Good
Rachel Weisz delivers a luminous, career-best performance as Hester that is sure to garner her some attention when awards season rolls around; it's a performance that's all the more powerful for being understated, with the look in her eyes conveying more emotion than any number of pages of anguished dialogue. Hiddleston is equally good as Freddie (though he doesn't quite pull off his shouty scenes), while Simon Russell Beale (primarily a stage actor) is surprisingly sympathetic as the devoted (and remarkably understanding) Sir William.

The dialogue is occasionally a little too stagey for its own good, but there are some devastating moments, particularly Hiddleston's delivery of the line, “For the meter – in case I'm late for supper,” as he hands her a coin at the pub when she complains that he's drinking too much.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister and the production design is extraordinary (it's probably the smokiest film since the heyday of the 1940s), with the lighting and soft focus recalling classic melodramas of the period (there's also a strong Brief Encounter vibe). This is heightened by a superb score from Samuel Barber, though the film also makes terrific use of traditional songs (a common Davies trait), most notably in two brilliantly paired singing scenes: a boozy sing-along in the pub and a morale-raising singsong in the underground during the Blitz.

Worth seeing?
Stylishly directed, exquisitely designed and achingly romantic (albeit thoroughly depressing), The Deep Blue Sea is a powerfully emotional drama that's worth seeing for a terrific central performance from Rachel Weisz.

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Content updated: 25/09/2018 22:38

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